A mental letter to George Osborne about the proposal to allow councils to extend trading hours for retailers on Sundays. The thoughts of a Christian and a father who works in retail.
Dear Mr Osborne,
I am writing to let you know my feelings about your proposal in the budget on allowing councils to extend Sunday trading hours from the current six that is allowed by law. I am a father to two young children and also a Christian.
I am completely against any powers for councils to extend retailers trading hours. There is little family time available in this life as it is and what there is of it for people who work in retail is slowly but surely being eroded by the greed of a few and now the government. With the exception of the emergency services and armed forces retail is one of the only industries that works non – stop with most shops in regional shopping centres open until nine or ten at night and with most major supermarkets open twenty four hours a day six days a week. On top of this Christmas is a non existent entity with shops opening later and later on Christmas eve and retailers like Next opening at 7am on Boxing Day for ‘The Sale’.
Yourself and consumer groups claim that in London these extensions could bring an extra £2 billion into the economy, however the London 2012 Olympics proved that this isn’t the case with most retailers not reporting any significant increase or any increase at all to their takings and profits.
You state that the extension of trading hours will help fight off the online sales and ‘help save our high streets’, well I can tell you now this will not happen, as a country we love to shop online most people now a days use the high street as a sort of library and then go home and buy it cheaper somewhere else ONLINE. What would help high streets, this is certainly true of my local area of Southend and probably true of a lot of others, would be a huge reduction in the rents charged for units in the first place along with a huge reduction in business rates and this would make small business want to either set up or expand. These measures along with a reduced parking fee to tackle the big regional shopping centres, where most with the exclusion of Westfield the parking is free would help regenerate most high streets over night.
Finally I feel that as a Christian country we should be preserving what is left of our Sabbath. People might not like it but there are companies within the retail sector that force people to work Sundays by putting it in their contract when they first start and many Christians are in a position where they have to say they are available to work Sundays to even get a job. So to extend trading hours would mean that they probably couldn’t even get to church at all. I know this will probably offend some people but it offends me that my beliefs are being attacked and ridden roughshod over by the general public and successive governments for essentially the pursuit of money.
I look forward to your response to this letter.